Saturday, November 11, 2017

Is MS Dhoni dropped down the order in T20s for his lack of firepower?

Indian batting in limited overs cricket is all about the top three and it gets even more highlighted in the shortest format. Shikhar Dhawan has managed to build on the momentum he gained during the last season of the Indian Premier League across all three formats.

Even though he played only one innings of note in the T20s vs Australia and New Zealand, it's fair to assume that he'll continue in that role for a while. It always helps to have a left-right opening combination and Dhawan has managed to address the only thing that went against him in T20 -- his strike rate in the Powerplay overs.

In Delhi he showed that he's willing to play a more aggressive brand of cricket, which is essential at the top of the order. Virat Kohli's presence at Number 3 further beefs up the firepower at the top. His T20 consistency is enviable, for the T20 format dictates inconsistency. The secret of his consistency is the fact that he's following the same methods that got him success in ODI cricket, which is playing along the ground and looking for gaps. Whenever he goes aerial, he targets the V down the ground.

Problem in the middle
The eternal search for Number 4 continues even in the shortest format. Against Australia it was Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav in the middle order but against New Zealand the spot went to Shreyas Iyer.

Against New Zealand Iyer got picked ahead of him and he found a place in the side even ahead of Pandey and Dinesh Karthik. Ideally, you want more experience while chasing 197 and more firepower in an 8-over game but team's vote of confidence for Iyer was the highlight.

While the team has been quite vocal about Dhoni's utility in the shorter formats and in fact, his contribution in the growth of Indian spinners can never be overstated, there's also an acknowledgement with regards to his role in the side. It was an interesting decision to drop him down the order, at times to No. 7, in the 50-over format but to do the same in T20s has raised more concerns about his utility.

Concern over Dhoni
His innings in Rajkot and T20 numbers in 2017 are suggesting that he needs time to get going and pushing him lower down the order is not in line with what he's been doing lately. Sending him after Iyer, Pandya and Pandey in an 8-over game will further raise questions, for it'll be viewed as an admission that he's no longer considered to have the firepower to hit big shots from get go.


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